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New Bill Would Allow Mixed-Use Development On RFK Site, Helping D.C.'s Push For NFL Stadium

RFK Stadium in D.C.

New efforts on the federal and local level were announced Thursday to redevelop the site around RFK Stadium, the now-dormant location previously home to Washington, D.C.'s professional football team.

The 142-acre site, owned by the federal government and leased to the District in an agreement that expires in 2028, has thus far been restricted to sporting uses.

New legislation from Rep. James Comer, a Republican from Kansas who leads the congressional committee that oversees D.C., would extend the District's lease for up to 99 years and allow it to develop the site into a mixed-use development, The Washington Post first reported. The legislation is co-sponsored by D.C.'s nonvoting representative, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat.

“This legislation is set to pave the way for local officials to create meaningful new jobs, add millions in city revenue, and transform the Anacostia River waterfront into a lively destination for all,” Comer told the Post in a statement. 

At an event the same day, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a sports-focused team to her administration’s economic development arm called “DMPED Sports Team.”

“Today, we are celebrating our status as the Sports Capital," Bowser said in a statement. "We are proud that so many world-class teams and athletes represent DC, and we’re committed to maintaining, expanding, and attracting sport in DC — from our professional athletes to the future all stars in our rec leagues."

“We are also celebrating a new opportunity to unlock the full potential of the RFK campus, to build on our waterfront as a Sports Capital destination, and to transform a sea of asphalt into jobs, housing, and amenities for DC residents.”

RFK Stadium hasn't hosted a professional team full time since 2017, after which D.C. United left for Audi Field. It has since hosted some concerts and other events but is now undergoing demolition, which is projected to be completed by the end of the year.

The moves come one week after the Washington Commanders came under new ownership. Dan Snyder, who purchased the NFL team in 1999, agreed to sell to billionaire and sports team owner Josh Harris for $6.05B in April. The deal officially closed last week.

Elected leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are now competing to host the next stadium for the team, which has played since 1997 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. 

The legislation would give D.C. an additional leg up to lure the team back to the city, as it would allow for the development of a mixed-use district around a stadium, a common trend for new NFL arenas.